OK, please bear with me here. Other than the fact that I am as curious as a cat (and live with three of them) I haven’t the foggiest notion what I am talking about. Still, there just might be something to this.
In 1935 the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger envisioned a scenario that illustrated some of the mysteries of quantum mechanics. This famous thought experiment became known as the dilemma of “Schroedinger’s Cat.
Here is a description of Shroedinger’s Cat that I found a bit easier to digest.
A cat is in a box with a lid that is shut. Within the box is a radioactive nucleus that has a 50-50 chance of decaying in an hour. If the nucleus decays this triggers a mechanism that breaks a vial of poison gas that kills the cat. The cat has two states: alive or dead. Schrodinger argued that if quantum mechanics is regarded as a fundamental universal theory then it must be applicable to all systems be they small or large. If so, then we must write, for the cat’s state,
|cat> = a|alive> + b|dead>,
that is, the cat apparently is in a superposed state of life and death! Then we open the box.
According to the measurement hypothesis (discussed next) when we open the box, we are performing a measurement of the cat’s state; this is said to cause the cat’s superposed state to collapse into one base state or the other |dead> or |alive>. The cat is found either pushing up the daisies, or purring for its milk. Schroedinger considered this to be so absurd that (like Einstein) he concluded that quantum mechanics could not be the final word; something was missing.
This is such a strange notion, a cat that is somehow both alive and dead, and, more to the point, contrary to what appears to happen in the macroscopic world that there seems to be only two possibilities: either quantum mechanics works only on a microscopic scale, in which case it is not a universal theory, or it is a universal theory in which case it cries out for a better understanding of the notion of superposition.
Since the advent of quantum theory, many physicists have tried to devise different interpretations of the superposition of states.
From “The Quantum World” , Florida State University Physics Department.
So, in a layman’s nutshell: Just the act of observing an experiment will affect the outcome. The tree falling in the forest makes no noise.(The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes a similar statement, but let’s not go there right now.)
The reason I wanted to talk about Schroedinger’s cat is because I think it might just have some bearing on the validity and relevance of miracles. A group of us have been engaged in a discussion over some of the works of CS Lewis and recently the topic was his essay “Miracles”. Lewis, for those of you who do not know, is considered by many to be one of the greatest of Christian apologists, practicing the art of intellectually and rationally explaining the Christian faith to those who do not believe.
In this essay it is his premise that the miracles that have been witnessed by many people over the centuries present clear evidence, to anyone who is interested, that there exists a God, particularly the God of Christianity. One of the people in our group took issue with his suggestion, a suggestion that is not unique to Lewis and is considered a part of Christian doctrine as told in the various creeds.
She contended that so many of these miraculous events are easily explained away by non-religious people and the more that science reveals of our natural world, the less people are likely to accept supernatural explanations. There also tends to be a lack of consensus among spiritual believers over what constitutes a miracle, from dramatic healings to the finding of lost keys.
I would have to agree with her. I have witnessed events that I can only describe as being supernatural evidence of God but rarely have I presented them to others as being miraculous. When I have witnessed those attempts at convincing a skeptic that God does work miracles in this world, they have never been successful. That doesn’t mean that miracles have never drawn someone closer to accepting spiritual possibilities, but I have never seen it happen.
The evidence of miracles had very little to do with my turning away from atheism, and the same can be said for my family and friends. I can not recall ever witnessing a miracle (before I found my faith in God) that I would have identified as such. But since I now enjoy a relationship with God, through Jesus, rarely does a day go by that I do not encounter a miracle or two. Some of them may be considered mundane but more than a few cannot be easily explained away naturally.
So could it be, that because I have changed my perspective on life, miracles do exist for me as I observe them? And when a skeptic observes the same event, there is no miracle, because of his particular vantage point? I am not suggesting here that our perception causes us just to see things differently (though that is certainly true) but that in many (perhaps all) instances it is our actual physical observation that helps shape the outcome.
In other words; the skeptic opens the box to find the cat dead because his rational mind, weighing the evidence in hand, tells him it must be so. When the person of faith opens the box, she witnesses the miracle of a live cat even though the same evidence was clearly visible to her. Her faith has effectively changed the outcome of the event.
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
What do you think? Other than perhaps I should consider putting a little less catnip in my pipe.